g’beda T. Lyles
Tell us about yourself:
I am a Black rural Mid-Westerner with Indigenous, South Indian, Angolan, and Texan roots. I have always used nature, sound and music as a way to transcend the world around me. As a kid, we used old tape recorders as a form of play. I guess I have always loved documenting the moment. When I discovered National Public Radio, I knew I would someday be a contributing journalist. That hasn’t happened yet, but I know that I am closer to that dream than I ever have been. (I believe in keeping dreams alive.) I love studying and playing traditional music. I have spent over 20 years studying West African drum & Dance. I am currently learning Mariachi music on the Borderland of El Paso and am creating a hybrid form of Blues, Bolero and Mariachi. I enjoy adding original music to my audio productions. As a performing artist, I was overjoyed to discover Sound Art and have begun creating pieces for a new podcast launching in 2024. Audio production is a career change for me. I love it because it encompasses so many things that I love- scriptwriting, field recording, interviewing, editing, and composing.
A piece of yours or project (in any medium) that you'd like to share.
Becoming an Honorary Mariachi is a piece I created as a Texas Folklife Fellow. It documents my experience living in El Paso, Texas and finally realizing a dream, learning Mariachi music. In it, I interviewed three Mariachis, created some original music, and shared my love for the music and culture. I am still learning the guitarron, the bass in Mariachi orchestration. I have begun singing in Spanish and playing with a local group of musicians. I hope you enjoy, Becoming an Honorary Mariachi : https://beta.prx.org/stories/466920
What draws you to storytelling?
I am a natural storyteller. I learned that skill from my great grandmothers. They both had fabulous ways of embellishing their stories and creating a room full of laughter. Storytelling nourishes connection. I love the way stories allow us to share in each other’s life experiences.
What excites you the most about being a New Voices Scholar?
The connection with the whole New Voices crew, facilitators, and my new Mentor, Cheryl Brumley have become so important to me. I literally miss the NV crew in between the meeting schedule. The skills that I have learned are also valuable. They helped show me where I need more development. Hearing other fellows talk about their work, challenges and ambitions have also helped me to navigate a new field. This fellowship has also expanded my view of how my audio production skills can be used. It’s given me a network of people to go to for the questions and concerns I have. I know that I have built some lasting relationships.
What’s playing on your radio/audio streaming service right now?
Mariachi and Afro-cuban music! I am usually spinning vinyl more than anything- Lakecia Benjamin, Samara Joy, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, John Lee Hooker, Lola Beltran, Sara Vaughn, Nancy Wilson, Dolly Parton and Charlie Pride. (I have to get the country in too!.)
What’s the most underrated tool (technical or not) that you use in your creative process?
Outlining, writing and editing scripts is a favorite! It really helps me see the many directions a story can take. I also love to draw out sequences in story lines. I haven’t got into building pitch decks yet, but I think that may also be a great tool to experiment with using.
What is something you want to see more of in the industry?
I want to see more accessibility to technology and the training to create professional level work. There is still a lot of information hoarding. The doors aren’t open or perhaps made wide enough for everyone who wants to be in the room to enter. I would also like to see more audio-production be able to thrive. Obtaining a living wage is not enough- it costs and takes time to create professional level pieces.
Who/What are your radio/audio inspirations and why?
I am currently inspired by my cohort and all of the beautiful work that is being done. I feel really proud to be a part of New Voices! I hope to represent my colleagues and this program well.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I am eternally grateful to be a New Voices Fellow. I know the effects will ripple into my future life and inform my success as an audio producer and sound artist. I am excited to launch my podcast in 2024.
Connect with g'beda on Instagram.